First test vote on infrastructure bill to fail

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans were expected to reject an attempt to start debate on a bipartisan Infrastructure deal that Senators brokered with President Joe Biden. However, supporters hope they'll be given another chance in the coming days.

21 July 2021 Wednesday 15:27
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First test vote on infrastructure bill to fail

The Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a procedural voting that he described to be a step to "get things moving" in talks. Republican senators want to see a detailed analysis of the bill's cost, how it was paid for, and a legislative text.

It is estimated that the measure will cost $1 trillion over five year with $579 billion more than previously anticipated levels. This is the first phase of Biden’s big infrastructure agenda. The second measure, which will cost $3.5 trillion, will follow.

"We have told him that we are not ready so we're going to vote no but we will be prepared by the end this week. We've always believed that," stated Sen. In an interview with CNBC, Rob Portman (Republican from Ohio), a lead negotiator. "We still have four to five issues that we're discussing and negotiating with our Democratic counterparts."

Portman confirmed that they had sent a letter to Schumer asking for a delay in the vote. The letter states that the 11 Republican signatories support moving forward with Monday's yes vote, provided certain details about the package can be made available.

Six months after Biden was elected, his "Build Back Better” campaign promise is at an important moment that will test his hopes of a new era in bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

Since Sunday, White House aides and senators from both parties have been working privately to close the deal. It would be the first phase of a $4 trillion plus package of domestic outlays. This includes roads and bridges but also foundations for everyday life such as child care and family tax breaks.

Biden was heading to Ohio Wednesday to promote his economic policies. He said that Americans support his plan in overwhelming support.

Senator McConnell, however, has stated that big spending is not what American families require.

The next steps are not clear. Before Wednesday's vote, the bipartisan group was sitting in private for lunch with the leaders of the House's Problem Solvers Caucus. This bipartisan group is generally supportive of senators' efforts.

Schumer stated that senators are currently in the fourth week after reaching an agreement with the White House on a broad framework to support infrastructure spending. He stated that the deadline to resolve all details is not set in stone and that the vote was not intended to be a final decision.

Schumer stated, "My colleagues know that we often agree on moving forward with discussions on issues before the text is in our hands." "We have done it twice already this year."

McConnell, Kentucky, called the vote "stunt", but stressed that senators were still "negotiating in good faith across both the aisle."

He said, "Around here we usually write the bills before voting on them."

A core group of Republicans is interested in seeking a smaller package of traditional highways and public works projects. This would amount to about $600 billion in new funding. They just need more time to negotiate and work with their Democratic counterparts and the White House.

Indiana Republican Senator Todd Young was one of the Republicans to sign the letter requesting the delay. He stated that he was "cautiously optimistic” they could reach a bipartisan agreement.

Bipartisan senators emerged from a late-night negotiation session Tuesday with Biden aides at Capitol feeling positive. They said that a deal was possible and that a Wednesday vote would not be the end.

Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said Wednesday's test vote could help "advance" and "expede" the process.

"We are so near," stated Jon Tester, a Democratic Senator from Montana.

Biden has been in contact with both Democrats, and Republicans for several day. His outreach will continue until he has both legislations on his desk and is ready to sign them into laws, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated Tuesday.

Biden suggests paying for his proposals by raising taxes on corporations and rich Americans earning more than $400,000 per year. However, the bipartisan group has worked almost continuously to find a compromise method to pay for the package. It had abandoned ideas to increase the gas tax drivers pay at their pumps or strengthen the Internal Revenue Service in order to pursue tax scofflaws.

Instead, the bipartisan group of senators considered rolling back a Trump-era rule regarding pharmaceutical rebates that could bring in $170 billion for infrastructure. They were still negotiating over public transit funds.

To join the 50 Democrats and reach the 60 votes threshold to move the bill beyond a filibuster, ten Republicans in the evenly divided Senate would be required. Schumer can request a second vote to move the bill forward.

Many Republicans are wary about moving forward with the first, rather slim package. They fear that it will open the door for the $3.5 trillion larger effort Democrats are working to pass under their special budget rules, which only requires 51 votes. Kamala Harris, Vice President, can end a tie.

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has been trying to keep the restless liberal Democrats in her room in line as rank-and file lawmakers become impatient with slow Senate pace.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman for the Congressional Progressive Caucus told reporters Tuesday that "Time is a waste, I want this work done."

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), dismissed the Senate's bipartisan effort to be more robust. He called for more robust transportation spending and stated, "We want an occasion to negotiate."

Democrats are hopeful that they can make progress on the bill before lawmakers depart Washington for August's recess.



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